Category Archives: Meat & Fish

Getting with the Program

I’ve been more than a little zoned-out lately, and even though I’ve been cooking, I haven’t had the drive to publish photos and recipes. (Like that’s never happened to you.) I spend long hours at work, and by the time I’m home at night (after a yoga class if I’m lucky) I’m totally uninterested in anything else that takes mental or physical energy. (Cry me a river, right?) Most of the food I’ve made in the past few months has been very simple – the kind of thing that I think doesn’t merit measurement or recording – and I’ve been eating more prepared foods, both good and bad (Sabra hummus, Luna bars, street meat and Rainbow falafel) than ever before.

In an effort to slow my simultaneous eventual downswing both into expensive just-ok convenience food and total thoughtlessness about said convenience food, I’m going to start posting some of the things I toss together when I’m home and have 15 minutes free. I’m also going to start a new category, Deskmates, to chronicle the little snacks, goodies, and concoctions that fuel my workday.

So. Here’s the first step back into the weblog program.

Tonight I was craving yogurt-marinated lamb with a pile of yieldingly soft braised nappa cabbage. But the nearest grocery store is almost a block away, so I decided to ignore my craving and make do with my admittedly ample pantry ingredients. It turned out to be much quicker and it allowed me to avoid putting on flip-flops and spending 10 minutes away from home. I know, it’s pretty sad. But at least if this trend continues, I’ll be able to make room  in my cupboards for more homemade jam and pickles.

So I rooted through a cupboard, and behind my spice grinder and a cardboard canister of rolled oats was a lonely can of tuna. I pulled that out, and remembered the shelled edamame in the freezer. Some shredded carrot and ginger, soy sauce and rice vinegar, rounded out the motley crew into a delicious asian-inspired salad. It turned out to be just what I needed, and all that fresh clean protein and vegetable matter gave me the energy to make a quick dessert, too (recipe to come). This is shaping up to be a program I think I can stick to – at least when it involves meals like this.

Tuna, Carrot, and Edamame Salad for a Lazy Sunday

  • 1 can of tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 c frozen shelled edamame
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce ( I used wheat-free low-sodium tamari)
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Korean red pepper flakes

Put a small pot with about 1 quart of water on to boil. Measure 1/2c frozen edamame and set aside. Grate the carrot into a medium bowl. Add the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, oil and red pepper and stir with a fork. Scrape the tuna on top. When the water boils, add the edamame and cook until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Strain and dump into the bowl. Stir everything together and add more vinegar or soy sauce if you like. Eat with a fork while checking your RSS feeds for the first time in a week. Feel stronger.


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Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, Pantry, Recipe, Vegetables

The Long Goodbye, part 2

Last Saturday, some friends were visiting the city and charged me with making dinner plans . After they’d seen Rent, I met Elena and Kalyn outside the theaer and led them to Florent for dinner. I told them what I knew of the restaurant’s history and it’s foreshortened future on the way downtown. by the time we got to the West Village, Florent was packed and the maitre told us there’d be at least half an hour’s wait. I asked if we needed to put a name on a list, but he said, “No, I’ll remember who you are.” So we stood near the window and chatted, and soon enough he led us to a table. As we walked back, I noticed that all of the framed maps on the wall were marked “for sale on Ebay.” I was a bit conflicted about that, thinking at the same time, “It won’t be the same without the maps,” and “Maybe I should buy one.” (I didn’t win, though I bid on two.)

I finally got to try the boudin noir with apples and sautéed onions. I chose the appetizer size since I wasn’t very hungry, and it was just enough. I cut away the casing and scraped velvety bits of sausage onto the apple slices. This particular boudin was rich and flavorful without verging into fatty or gamy territory. Elena and Kalyn both had cheeseburgers, and proclaimed them delicious. They’re even thinking about making one more visit before Florent closes June 29th.

After dinner, I went to the bathroom, and when I came back Elena presented me with my very own Florent t-shirt. “Because you love this place and it’s closing,” she said. And it was the one I’d been secretly planning to get for myself! I love Florent’s cheeky designs – there’s been a stomach postcard on my wall for a few years now.

So I have about a month left to get back and try the paté and maybe something from the breakfast or daily special menus. I’ll report back.

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Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, review, Things I Did Not Cook

Pink Pink Pink

Hi there. This site is about a month old now, and I think we’re entering a new stage of its development. When I first started writing here, I had a million ideas in my head of things I could cook, photograph, review, taste. I still do, only all those things have taken a backseat to working most of the time and sleeping when I’m done. I’ve been trying to cook and shop and photograph like I usually do, but since I started this new job (a good opportunity, just with so much catch-up work to do), I haven’t had time for cooking. Unless you count the rice and greens I’ve been making in large batches to bring in for lunch, or the oatmeal with leftover rhubarb compote I have for breakfast.

But maybe I’m finally getting the rhythm of my new schedule, or adjusting to the reduced amount of free time, because tonight, I wanted to cook something new and exciting, despite getting in after 8pm. On the way to the office this morning, I walked through the Union Square Greenmarket and practically pounced on the sweet New Jersey strawberries the vendors were just putting out. The little green basket sat on my desk all day, smelling sweet and no doubt ripening further.

It’s always a special treat for me, the first really good strawberry of summer. A few weeks ago I saw the little pale berries at the market, but they weren’t ready. Now we’re only a week away from a mid-season glut of berries. When the time comes, I’ve already decided to buy enough to make a big batch of jam, maybe with a sprinkling of pink peppercorns.

So when I finally arrived home with my basket of berries, I needed some protein and minerals, and I wanted to let the strawberries in on the dinner fun. Luckily, I had some salmon in the refrigerator and pink mustard greens from a previous greenmarket run. I made some of the strawberries into salsa, wilted the greens with olive oil and garlic, and served that with pistachio and pink peppercorn-crusted salmon. The combination of the pink and green tastes is fresh and warm and summery, with the peppercorns picking up the fruity taste of the strawberries and the floral notes in the greens. The salmon’s briny, oily, rich taste complements the fresh berries and greens, and the toasty pistachio crust. I always feel like I should pair ingredients that look alike, have the same shape or color, and in this instance, it works out perfectly. Now that I’ve had this dinner, I’m energized enough to put in a day of work tomorrow, and maybe even cook dinner again.

This trio of pinks is headed off to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week at Wandering Chopsticks.

Pink Peppercorn and Pistachio-Crusted Salmon with Strawberry Salsa and Pink Mustard Greens

For the salsa:

  • 1/2 c strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 1 small red hot pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • Juice of 1/4 lime

Mince the pepper and garlic. Mice the strawberries, mix with pepper, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Transfer to small bowl to macerate.

For the greens:

  • 3 cups pink mustard greens, loosely packed, chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

Heat the oil on medium, add garlic and cook 1 minute while stirring. Stir in the greens a handful at a time, then cook just until wilted.

For the salmon

  • 2 Tbs pistachios
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 8-oz salmon fillet
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Rub both sides of the salmon with lime juice. Grind the pistachios and peppercorns in a spice grinder. Mix with salt and sprinkle half on the flatter side of the salmon fillet. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium, then place the salmon in the skillet, crust side down. Sprinkle other side with remaining crust mixture. Cook 4 mintues, then turn and cook 4 minutes more. Cook up to 2 more minutes per side if you like your salmon well-done. Cut in half and serve each on a bed of mustard greens and topped with salsa.


Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, Recipe, Vegetables

Turkey Meatballs

Sometimes I crave spicy Italian sausage. And in the interest of full disclosure, “sometimes” means at least once a week. But I can rarely bring myself to gamble the high caloric intake and possible fat-ingestion bellyache for the elusive rewards of sausage. Especially if I happen to choose a sausage that’s just ok, but not mind-alteringly delicious. Then I’m feeling heavy and disappointed, which I can’t recommend to anyone.

Thank goodness for ground turkey. I just get a pound of it, season it with lots of fennel, red pepper, rosemary, and garlic, and form it into little balls. I usually brown the meatballs then simmer them gently in sauce to finish cooking. This whole meal takes less than an hour to make and eat, which is perfect for the middle of a workweek. Ian and I made these a few days ago to go with our pasta and garlic bread, and we’ve been taking the leftovers to work ever since. I can’t say they satisfied my spicy sausage craving, exactly, because (again, full disclosure) when I know they’re waiting in the fridge, I want them even more.

Turkey Meatballs with Pasta and Sauce (and garlic – basil bread!):

  • 1 pound ground turkey (if you can only find the pre-packaged 1.3 pound turkey, just use the whole thing.)
  • 6 small garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs oil (for browning)

Basil-Garlic Bread

  • 1/2 loaf Italian Bread
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 c basil leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs olive oil

Pasta and Sauce

  • 1 pound pasta (we used fusilli)
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (we used 365 Organic Tomato & Basil – it was just ok, so we added basil leaves and chopped garlic)

Mix meat and spices thoroughly but gently with your hands. If you over mix, your meatballs will be tough. Roll into 24 balls.

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350. Slice Italian loaf in half, then split lengthwise (like you would if you were making a sub). Drizzle olive oil all over the inside. Spread garlic on one half, sprinkle with salt, and cover with basil leaves. Close bread, wrap in foil, and put into the oven for 15-20 minutes, until warm and fragrant.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Put the sauce in a medium pot and heat on low. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large skillet on medium. Brown the balls in two batches, 2 minutes per side, turning so three sides are browned. Once browned, add the meatballs to the tomato sauce. When the pasta water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente, usually 10-13 minutes. Drain the pasta, but not too thoroughly. You need a little bit of water clinging to the strands to help distribute the sauce. Mix pasta, meatballs, and sauce, and serve with warm garlic bread.

I’m sending this post to this week’s Presto Pasta Night, hosted by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.


Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, Recipe, Side Dish

The Long Goodbye

Florent will only be around another month. Yes, it’s been all over the news lately, deservedly, because it’s been as much a cultural asset as a culinary one. Ian and I went there last week just to make sure we made it in to say goodbye before they close. We both had the excellent burger (on an english muffin!), and I need to go back at least twice before they close so I can try the boudin noir and pâté, maybe even the mussels. I’ve always thought about ordering those, but I end up with the burger every time. It’s just so satisfying to have a simple meal that’s made with care – familiar and unassuming, but special because of the feeling that goes into it. And that’s how I’d sum up the entire restaurant, if I had to. But I’m glad I don’t have to, because Florent is more than that sum. Everything in it – from the maps on the wall to the chilled beer glasses to the nubby rounds of butter – is done with taste, precision, and a sense of humor.

The staff go out of their way to make diners feel welcome. When Ian and I were there last week, we opted to sit at the counter rather than hold out for a table. The waiter brought us kid’s menus and a cup of crayons to share with the couple next to us. We were delighted – it’s not often a restaurant encourages play.

Since that dinner last week, I’ve been trying to write about Florent, but I can’t seem to do it without sounding sentimental (neither can any of the writers, either). So I’m just going to let it stand, this sentimental post. There’s a mystery about this place, I think, and it can’t be figured out even with repeat visits. But until it’s gone, I’ll keep going back to say goodbye.

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Filed under Main Dish, Meat & Fish, review, Side Dish, Things I Did Not Cook

Bacon Cornbread

Today for a special Sunday brunch, Ian suggested we make bacon cornbread.

The man is a font of good ideas.

I dug up my old standby cornbread recipe, made a few alterations in the name of bacon, and we had our bacon cornbread cooling on the windowsill in a little over an hour. The loaf gets a thick golden bottom crust from bacon-greasing the pan. It’s surprisingly light in texture, as Ian noted while cutting our second helpings, and the fluffy slices are flecked with smoky pink bits of bacon that offer a pleasant chew every few bites.

I think this would also be good with 3 or 4 Tbs minced chives or scallions stirred in with the bacon. Some smoked paprika would also be a good addition, probably about 1/2 tsp. Cornbread keeps well up to a week when wrapped and refrigerated, but it dries out quickly after the first day and is best toasted. I’m very tempted to toast a slice and spread it with peanut butter, perhaps in honor of the king. (Understandably so, since I’m still reading Mystery Train.) This cornbread is pretty rich, so maybe I’ll just wait until next January and make that my toast to Elvis’ birthday.

Bacon Cornbread

  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup fine cornmeal (we used stone-ground white cornmeal)
  • 2 Tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4c milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbs bacon grease/olive oil (Your bacon might not render this much fat, so supplement it with some olive oil if you don’t save bacon grease.)

Preheat the oven to 350. On a foil-lined baking sheet, lay out the five slices of bacon and bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp. In the meantime, measure dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs. Measure the milk and have it at hand.

Remove the bacon from the oven when it’s crisp and let cool. When the foil is cool enough to touch, use it to pour the bacon fat into a loaf pan. Swirl the fat around and use a brush or your hand to lightly grease the whole pan. Measure the fat by pouring it from the pan into a tablespoon and add each tablespoon of fat to the beaten eggs. Make up the difference in olive oil (we used about 2 Tbs olive oil). Whisk the oil into the eggs, then whisk in the milk.

Dice the bacon and stir into the dry ingredients. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and spread resulting batter into loaf pan. Bake about 45 minutes, until a knife poked into the loaf comes out clean. (Check it after 30 minutes, by which time it should have risen and the crust will have cracked. Overcooked cornbread is dry cornbread, and dry cornbread is disappointing.)

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Filed under Baked, Breakfast, Meat & Fish, Recipe

St. John of Bleecker Street

New York pizza is always good. Yes, even the greasy slices you can get all night on the Lower East Side, even the pizza from the hordes of places called Ray’s, all claiming to be The Original Ray’s. Plenty of New Yorkers are devoted to one or another of the pantheon of coal- or wood-burning classics, like Totono’s or Patsy’s or Lombardi’s or Grimaldi’s. And plenty of New Yorkers just love it all, devoting themselves to pizza like they expect divine illumination to beam down upon them when they’ve finally sampled every pie in the city.

I’m not one of the pizza devout, though I rarely miss an opportunity to partake of the precious wafer. I’m more of a casual believer with strong leanings towards Totono-ism (it’s in Coney Island, mecca of the curious) and a particular affinity for the gospel of John’s. Ian and I stopped in Tuesday for a sausage and garlic pie, just early enough to avoid the inevitable 8pm line at the door.

Our booth was flanked by Swedish tourists on one side and German tourists on the other. The rest of the diners were young New Yorkers, except one older man dividing his attention between pizza and a book. Generations of pizza pilgrims have carved initials, rough hearts, and dates into the wooden booths and walls, and in the front room, most of the light comes from the red neon sign in the window. While we waited for our pizza to arrive, we recognized most of the songs playing: Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, and David Bowie’s cover of Jonathan Richman’s Pablo Picasso. That’s all I remember because once pizza appeared on the table, I had no attention for anything but the task at hand: to pick up a slice and gnaw my way from point to crust.

The pizza at John’s is a careful balance of textures and flavors, like all pizza should be. The coal-oven crust is crisp yet flexible, there’s enough tomato sauce to help the crust go down but not enough to make it soggy, and there’s just enough cheese to hold it all together. The sausage was tender and pleasantly spicy, and the fresh chopped garlic generously distributed. Something about this pizza is deeply satisfying, if understated. It’s a comfortable food, and because it’s so well-made, because all parts combine into such a cohesive whole, it lets you forget to analyze flavors, and instead you just enjoy a great pizza. Really, I think this is the secret goal of making pizza, to touch those feelings of comfort, history, youth. There’s a deeper mystery involved, I’m sure, but I think that’s part of why we all love pizza so much.

John’s of Bleecker Street

278 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 243-1680

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Filed under Meat & Fish, review, Things I Did Not Cook